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Google's push to change the U.S. power grid

Posting in Energy


Google's philanthropic unit, Google.org, is forking over $2.65 million to the Energy Foundation in an effort to get utilities and states to change how they charge consumers for electricity.

While there have been all sorts of leaps forward in power-sucking technologies like phones, computers and TVs, how we use and pay for our electricity hasn't changed much.

The technology--like smart meters and programmable thermostats--is there, Michael Terrell, senior policy counsel of energy and sustainability with Google, wrote Monday on the company's blog. However, the rules governing electricity distribution were written for last century's grid, wrote Terrell.

Google.org is giving the grant to the Energy Foundation to help lobby for policy reforms focusing on three key areas:

  • Smarter electricity rates that encourage consumers to be more efficient and change their electricity use to times when it's cheaper and produce their own on-site energy;
  • Access to electricity markets for consumers and other businesses so they can be compensated for cutting energy use at key times;
  • Open data policies that give customers access to their own energy data, which they can use or share with third parties they select, promoting better energy management tools and services.

Some progress has been made on the open-data policy front. Green Button--the White House-Energy Department program that’s pushing for a simple, universal format that allows electricity customers to access their energy usage data--has signed on a number of utilities since its launch last January.

Photo: Flickr

— By on January 15, 2013, 2:56 AM PST

Kirsten Korosec

Contributing Editor

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure